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May 2010 Safe Wheeling - Winch Management 101

Posted in How To: Electrical on May 1, 2010 Comment (0)
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A winch is capable of pulling 498 amps. Why drive around with live power to your winch? Instead, a Kodiak Industries Winch Manager can control the power flow to your winch, drawing amps only when necessary and eliminating the danger of "hot leads" when the winch is not in use.

We've always touted the importance of safe winching, but until now, one very important winch-related safety concern has gone virtually uncovered: proper winch management. We're not talking about wearing gloves or keeping fingers away from the fairlead, but about a different type of management. Recently, a reader wrote to us with a doom-and-gloom account of how thieves attempted to steal his Warn 9.5ti winch off of his Ford F-150 in the middle of the night-right in front of his own house.

Apparently, the vandals could not free two of the four mounting bolts that secured the winch to the bumper. However, the would-be crooks did manage to cut the battery cables before fleeing, sans winch. Unfortunately, the freshly severed battery cables shorted out, causing a complete meltdown of the truck's electrical system. A short while later the truck caught fire, as did the owner's Ski Nautique boat parked next to it.

When the boat's fuel tank exploded, so did the front portion of the owner's garage. Luckily, a sleepless neighbor noticed the commotion and peered outside to investigate. 911 was called, and the fire department arrived shortly thereafter, waking up the entire neighborhood in the process. The unfortunate owner said that he never even heard a sound and probably would have kept right on sleeping had the concerned neighbor not banged on his door. To make matters worse, the insurance company tried to fight the claim, saying the vehicle was altered from stock and that they were unaware of it.

Obviously, anyone would absolutely dread this scenario. But if the victim had installed a Kodiak Industries Winch Manager, the loss would have been minimal. A Winch Manager controls the flow of electrical power between the battery and the winch, allowing the owner/operator the option of arming the winch when required for use. In other words, the electrical power stops at the relay, leaving no danger of hot leads in a vulnerable state.

This diagram shows how the Winch Manager is wired into the winch's electrical system.

The Winch Manager shown below was installed on a '06 Jeep Wrangler LJ, along with a pair of Odyssey AGM batteries. Wiring and electrical guru Yawan Smith, owner and operator of Kodiak Industries of Morgan Hill, California, built the system. Smith's setup was originally intended for commercial service vehicles like Forest Service and tow trucks, but more and more 4x4 enthusiasts are purchasing the system for added insurance. Essentially the system consists of a 6- to 12-foot length of high-quality power cable with appropriate terminals installed on each end, a 600-amp surge capacity relay, and an illuminated control switch that mounts inside the vehicle. Once installed, the system is ready for action at the flip of a switch.


Kodiac Industries
Gilroy, CA 95020


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